Who is at Risk to Become an Alcoholic?

Alcohol Abuse and AddictionAlcohol use is promoted in just about every venue around the United States. There are alcohol commercials on television that portray drinking as being America’s favorite pastime. There are ads in magazines and billboards on the side of the streets, and plenty of people talking about how wonderful alcohol is.

But what you don’t see are the millions of alcoholics that are struggling with trying to stop drinking. And those who wonder, Am I an alcoholic? Those that have lost things that are dear to them due to their alcohol use. Some have lost their relationships with their spouses or their children. Some of lost their jobs and some have lost their license due to driving under the influence of alcohol. Many have lost their dignity, and simply don’t know what to do with themselves.

Am I an alcoholic? What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a condition that involves dependence on alcohol. A person who drinks alcohol over time may get to a point where his or her body becomes dependent on it. It’s not so much that they want to drink; they have to. They try to stop at one or two, but they have a difficult time stopping. When it gets to this point, alcohol has likely become more important than other activities or people in one’s life and the life of an alcoholic has begun. At the same time, they may still wonder, Am I an alcoholic?

We all know that alcoholics don’t want to be alcoholics. They’re addicted to booze. If you’re thinking about drinking or are actively drinking now and wonder if you’re at risk to become an alcoholic or ask yourself this question: Am I an alcoholic? You’ll want to read this article.  It’s important to know who is at risk of battling the disease of alcoholism. There are a myriad of factors that place a person at risk of becoming an alcoholic, so take a few minutes and see if you fall into any of the following scenarios:

Those that grew up with an alcoholic parent

If you have a parent that is an alcoholic, studies have shown that you are more likely to become one yourself. The mitigating factors include emotional and behavioral problems that surface from living with alcoholic parents. It is important to note that it is not necessarily genetics that brings about children of alcoholics ending up as alcoholics. It is the emotional turmoil that they have to deal with from the alcoholic parent that leads to the child seeking an outlet through alcohol. However, studies also show that more than half of children with alcoholic parents do not end up as alcoholics.

Essentially, your risk of turning into an alcoholic when you have an alcoholic parent is increased by the following:

  • If the alcohol abuse was severe
  • If both parents were severe alcoholics
  • If the alcoholic parent had mental health problems, such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • If there was emotional or physical abuse going on

Those that have mental health problems

There are some mental health problems such as depression, severe anxiety, or bipolar disorder that may lead to dependence on alcohol. For example, if you’re depressed, you may drink habitually to get some sort of relief or a temporary moment of feeling good. However, this is only temporary and the good feeling only lasts while you’re under the influence of alcohol. When you stop drinking, the depression surfaces and you’re apt to repeat the drinking process over and over again. This can certainly lead to alcohol addiction and in reality, worsen the depression. The same thing goes for those who drink to try to cope with high anxiety, social or mood disorders, addictions, and more. And, all the while you may be silently wondering, Am I an alcoholic?

It’s not that those struggling with such emotional issues want to become an alcoholic, but they do enjoy how the alcohol helps them not feel so much emotional distress. Those with anxiety like the way alcohol makes them feel less anxious, and more like they fit in with the crowd. Those that are dealing with emotional pain may like the way alcohol numbs that pain temporarily. Granted, these are not healthy solutions to the issues, but in that person’s mind, it makes pretty good sense to them.

Those that started drinking early

Underage drinking or starting the habit of drinking at an early age increases your risk of becoming an alcoholic. Fundamentally, before a person is an adult, the brain is not yet fully developed. As such, alcohol may hamper the full development the brain. Social and environmental factors may lead to underage drinking and may lead you to use alcohol excessively, consequently leading to alcoholism at a young age. Studies show that if a person starts drinking alcohol between the age of 11 and 14, there is a 16% chance that they will become alcoholics in less than 10 years. Conversely, should an individual start drinking alcohol at the age of 19, there is only 1% chance that they will become alcoholics when they get older.[1]

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. There are some older adults that perhaps never drink as a teen or young adult, and yet they’ve become alcoholics maybe in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and so on. While looking at statistics is helpful, it’s always helpful to realize that there are exceptions to those numbers. It’s worthy to note here that even young teens can be wrestling with the question, Am I an alcoholic?

Those that are recovering alcoholics

A recovering alcoholic is at risk of reverting back to the habit of alcohol dependence if they start drinking again.  Those in the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) circle believe that once you’re an alcoholic, you’re always an alcoholic. That there is no cure, but there is the ability to manage the disease by complete abstinence. Not everyone believes this philosophy, but a good many recovering alcoholics who had some sobriety and then thought they could go out and become a social drinker will tell you that they indeed could not handle it. Once they started drinking again, the disease kicked in and two beers became ten in no time, over and over again.  So, if you used to be dependent on alcohol and gave it up, chances are if you start drinking again, you’ll end up dependent again.

Those that struggle with PTSD

While we mentioned emotional disorders before, some that have been diagnosed with PTSD are likely to take to drinking to try to cope with their intense anxiety, flashbacks, fear, and so on. Post-traumatic stress disorder left untreated by professionals can be quite burdensome for an individual. There are many men and women who simply will not reach out for professional help for PTSD, so many of them self-medicate by using alcohol. The continued use of alcohol can easily cause them to become alcoholics, not being able to stop drinking. There are various reasons why they will not reach out for help, with one being that they may not be able to afford the high prices of counseling and their insurance may not cover it. For this reason, it’s important that there are opportunities for alcoholics who want to get sober to have the access to affordable counseling.

Do you see yourself in any of these situations? Or perhaps a loved one? Are you asking yourself, Am I an alcoholic? Or “Am I likely to become one?” It’s a great idea to educate yourself on the risk factors of alcoholism for yourself and others. When you educate yourself, you empower yourself and are less likely to give your power away to others or substances like alcohol.

If you’re at risk to become an alcoholic, take note and watch yourself. If you have some concerns about your drinking habits, and wonder, Am I an alcoholic? Talk to a substance abuse professional to get some clarity. It’s best to address the situation sooner rather than later.  Alcoholism is prevalent in our society, with a good many high functioning alcoholics holding down good jobs and tending to the family. Yet, inside they’re struggling and afraid.  They want to stop drinking, but find it difficult.  If you’re at risk of becoming an alcoholic, educate yourself and make good choices when it comes to drinking. You’ll thank yourself many times throughout your life for doing so.

If you answer yes to the question, Am I an alcoholic? it’s time to reach out for professional help. Taking a season of your life and getting the help that you need to quit drinking can help you to have a long-lasting happy life. There are inpatient or outpatient rehabs that have wonderful professionals that are more than willing to assist you.

If you’re able to leave your home for about a month, and alcohol inpatient rehab will suit you well. If you can’t leave your home, look into outpatient rehabs in your city. There you will be able to commit to a few sessions a week where you can learn about the disease of addiction, discuss your issues with a professional counselor, perhaps attend a 12-step meeting, and learn more effective coping skills. It’s well worth the effort, and millions of people have gotten sober in such facilities. You’ll also be able to create a relapse prevention plan, that will help you out when it comes to your cravings and triggers once you leave treatment. It’s always a good idea to have a plan in place before you actually start craving

Take some time to do some research on alcohol rehabs, to see how they can help you stop drinking and get your life back. You don’t have to struggle alone with this any longer. You can even give us a call and we’ll help you navigate your recovery plan. Alcoholism is a disease, but it is treatable and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Take your first step towards sobriety today, and give us a call.

[1] http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/24/if-drinking-starts-at-puberty-its-more-likely-to-lead-to-alcohol-problems/